Most Workers Are ‘Bicultural,’ Even You

Do you behave at work the same way you do at home? Do you talk to people the same way, use the same word choices? Probably not.

You likely act in a way that makes sense at your office or work site. For example, if people wear suits at your job, then you wear a suit to work. But do you often wear a tie when you are off of work?

Your work and your home life have two different cultures. You are expected to talk and act a certain way at work that is not the same as how you behave in your personal life.

Career expert Elisabeth Sanders-Park of WorkNet Solutions says that everyone is “bicultural.” We all move between the culture of our home lives and our workplace culture.

For example, if you are scheduled to arrive at a business meeting at 1pm, you would get in trouble is you showed up late. However, when your friends agree to meet for lunch does anyone get upset if you are a few minutes late?

What’s expected in social situations is not the same as what’s expected on the job.

Here are a few questions every employee or job seeker can ask himself or herself:


  • Do your clothes fit your workplace? What do your customers, coworkers or supervisors think of how you dress?
  • Is your hairstyle and grooming appropriate for your work?
  • Does the way you look represent your company in a positive way? Does your appearance represent your personal brand?


  • How do you speak at work? Does your vocabulary and grammar match your coworkers and customers?
  • Do your written messages and reports meet your supervisor’s needs? Do your send appropriate e-mails and letters?
  • How are your phone manners? Do you represent your company well when you talk to customers or clients?


  • How do you carry yourself? Does your body language say that you are a confident professional?
  • Can you be trusted? Do you meet deadlines and do quality work?
  • Does your work reflect your personal brand?

Remember, each company has its own culture. And what is expected of employees changes from industry to industry. To find out what is expected of workers in your career, do informational interviews to get inside information about work culture.

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2 thoughts on “Most Workers Are ‘Bicultural,’ Even You

  1. This is excellent advice. Every company has its own culture as well, so what worked at one place won’t at another. I reblogged this entry as I thought it was good information to share. Let me know you if you mind, I will take it down. Thanks!

  2. Reblogged this on Ad+ition and commented:
    I remember having a conversation with a co-worker who felt it inauthentic to behave differently at work than with his friends. He felt he was being ‘fake’.

    I remember telling him, if you went to a different country would you try to respect their culture and values? Of course. Think of your work culture your own “When in Rome.”

    Obviously, there are core values you have that you don’t want to compromise, for me; it’s honesty and ethical behavior.

    But whether or not I wear a suit doesn’t affect my personal values.

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